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Government wins landmark age discrimination case

A High Court Judge has ruled this week that British workers can be retired at 65 in a dramatic finale to a three year battle over the right to continue working beyond that age. 

Determining the landmark age discrimination case, however, Mr Justice Blake indicated that he could not see how the age could remain untouched by a forthcoming Government review of the Age Regulations.

The case – led by Heyday, an arm of Age Concern and by Help the Aged, was over whether the National Default Retirement Age introduced under the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 fails to interpret an EU Directive against age discrimination correctly.

The Government argued that its social or employment policy objectives make the National Default Retirement Age necessary.

Mr Justice Blake said in the judgment, that if Regulation 30 "had been adopted for the first time in 2009, or there had been no indication of an imminent review, I would have concluded…that the selection of age 65 would not have been proportionate. 

I would, accordingly, have granted relief requiring it to be reconsidered."

He added: "I cannot presently see how 65 could remain as a DRA after the review.”

Speaking after the decision barrister Paul Epstein QC from discrimination chambers Cloisters said: “In the short term this is a disappointing ruling for the millions of workers who want to continue working past 65. There are an estimated 900,000 people over 65 who are in work.

"As a result of this decision their rights in the work place remain extremely limited.

"If they are retired off for example, employers do not need to give any kind of financial compensation – unlike younger workers - as long as strict retirement procedure is followed.”

Discussing the implications of the Heyday decision on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire David Woollcott Senior HR Consultant at Workplace Law Group said there was nothing to stop an employee to request that they continue to work after retirement age, but the decision means their employer can refuse that request without having to give a reason.


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